IMDb > "Columbo" Murder by the Book (1971)
"Columbo: Murder by the Book (#1.1)"
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"Columbo" Murder by the Book (1971)

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Columbo: Seasons 1 - 7: Season 1: Episode 1 -- US Home Video Trailer from Universal TV

Overview

User Rating:
7.5/10   1,853 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Steven Bochco (written by)
Richard Levinson (created by) ...
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Contact:
View company contact information for Murder by the Book on IMDbPro.
TV Series:
Original Air Date:
15 September 1971 (Season 1, Episode 1)
Genre:
Plot:
When one member of a mystery writing team wants to break from his less talented partner, he becomes the victim in a real-life murder mystery. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
NewsDesk:
(4 articles)
Falk's Daughter Makes Her Case For Conservatorship In Court
 (From WENN. 28 May 2009, 12:15 PM, PDT)

Bullitt And Knight Rider's Autos Rev Up On Top Car List
 (From WENN. 4 February 2009, 11:45 PM, PST)

Hotel Builder Sues Sinatra + Falk
 (From WENN. 13 August 2008, 8:58 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Falk, Cassidy and Spielberg do their job very well but there are problems with Stephen Bocho's script See more (25 total) »

Cast

 (Episode Cast) (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Peter Falk ... Columbo

Jack Cassidy ... Ken Franklin

Rosemary Forsyth ... Joanna Ferris

Martin Milner ... Jim Ferris
Barbara Colby ... Lilly La Sanka
Lynette Mettey ... Gloria (as Lynnette Mettey)
Bernie Kuby ... Mike Tucker

Hoke Howell ... Sergeant

Marcia Wallace ... Woman (credit only)
Haven Earle Haley ... 2nd Reporter
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Frank Baker ... Theatre Patron (uncredited)
Anitra Ford ... Woman at Theater (uncredited)
Bobby Gilbert ... Theatre Patron (uncredited)
Leoda Richards ... Theatre Patron (uncredited)
Mark Russell ... Police Sgt. (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Theatre Patron (uncredited)
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Episode Crew
Directed by
Steven Spielberg 
 
Writing credits
Steven Bochco (written by)

Richard Levinson (created by) &
William Link (created by)

Produced by
Richard Levinson .... producer
William Link .... producer
Robert F. O'Neill .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Billy Goldenberg 
 
Cinematography by
Russell Metty (director of photography) (as Russell L. Metty)
 
Film Editing by
John Kaufman  (as John Kaufman Jr.)
 
Art Direction by
Archie J. Bacon  (as Arch Bacon)
 
Set Decoration by
Richard Friedman 
 
Production Management
Henry Kline .... unit manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ralph Ferrin .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
David H. Moriarty .... sound
 
Stunts
Hubie Kerns Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Burton Miller .... costumes
 
Editorial Department
Richard Belding .... editorial supervisor
Steve Johnson .... colorist (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Henry Mancini .... composer: theme
James D. Young .... music editor (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Steven Bochco .... story editor
Attila De Lado .... main title design (as Attila de Lado)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
76 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Australia:PG (video rating) | Denmark:11 (2004) | Finland:K-7 (2004) | Norway:15 (2004) | Sweden:15 (2004) | UK:PG (video rating) (2000)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Part of the original Sunday NBC Mystery Movie with rotated with the series "McCloud" (1970) and "McMillan & Wife" (1971).See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The writing partnership produced 15 Mrs. Melville books, but when Ken gives Columbo the books to take home, there are only 10. When Columbo brings them back when Ken is being interviewed, he comes with 14, and when they are piled on the table during the climactic office scene, there are 16.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
[Jim works in his office]
Jim Ferris:[knock on the door] Who is it?
[another knock on the door]
Jim Ferris:[He opens the door - Ken is aiming a gun at his face. Jim laughs]
Ken Franklin:Oh, you're not intimidated.
Jim Ferris:Oh, come on, Ken. You're forgetting that I'm one-half of the world's greatest mystery-writing team? You, ah, don't have gloves on, your finger's not on the trigger, and there are no bullets in the cylinder.
Ken Franklin:[smiling] You're right. I'm a lousy practical joker.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Jeopardy!: Episode #22.52" (2005)See more »
Soundtrack:
Love Theme from 'Red Sky At Morning'See more »

FAQ

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
Falk, Cassidy and Spielberg do their job very well but there are problems with Stephen Bocho's script, 19 April 2002
Author: The Welsh Raging Bull (leighton.phillips@sihe.ac.uk) from Port Talbot, South Wales, UK

This was the first televised episode of the Columbo series (although it was filmed after "Death Lends a Hand")and it heralded one of the most successful TV series in history.

Jack Cassidy (who played the murderer in the series three times) enthuses smugness, arrogance and self-assuredness in equal measure here, as Ken Franklin, one half of a mystery writing team who hatches an elaborate plot to kill off his partner, Jim Ferris (played by Martin Milner) who decides to terminate their professional relationship, leaving Franklin exposed as merely a good publicist rather than a prolific writer.

The initial murder set-up is fantastic and Cassidy's performance facilitates an arguable accolade that he was the best Columbo murderer in the series.

Peter Falk is wonderfully understated in his role as Columbo and the character's inherent traits and oddities, which are underlined by a seeming slowness and absent-mindedness, contrast particularly well with Cassidy's character's extreme smugness: one of their early scenes together where Ken Franklin fabricates a motive for the killing through Jim Ferris's non-existent expo-see of identifying hit-men operating in the underworld exemplifies this very well. Franklin hints to Columbo this potential motive and Columbo (purposely or ignorantly) fails to latch on, forcing Franklin to express his disappointment in a markedly patronising manner and compare him unfavourably with the detective in the books, Mrs. Melville.

Also, noteworthy is the early directorial contribution of 24 year old Steven Spielberg. Notwithstanding, some elementary inclusions of cameras shadowing the actors and actresses, he adds some stylish and elaborate touches to uphold the general professionalism of the episode. One particularly stark image is of Jim Feriss's dead body lying on the settee, almost dark in the foreground, as Ken Franklin raises a glass to him in the background after he finishes answering a phone call to Ferris's distraught wife. I have no doubt that working to a restrictive 10-14 day schedule, Spieberg's efforts should not be underestimated.

Unfortunately, the event of the second murder, necessitated by a blackmailing scheme which is plotted by a female friend of Franklin's (and ironically referred to as "sloppy" by Columbo in his climatic summing up) takes the steam out of the whole thing. The cutting edge of the plot is compromised and the screen-time between Falk and Cassidy inexcusably lessens at this point to perhaps help the script-writer (Stephen Bocho) out of a tight corner, since he cannot singularly develop the story without another murder.

The climax is the most disappointing aspect of this episode. The initial banter and exchange of words between Falk and Cassidy is strongly and effectively executed, but it merely advertises the fact that it should have happened more in the episode. The main aggravation lies with the sealing clue (if it can be called a clue): Cassidy's character's hitherto smugness and arrogance is amazingly expelled by a clue that really does little to imply his guilt; and once this is mentioned, he capitulates in a rather unspectacular and uncharacteristic fashion.

All in all, a bold opening to the series, which inevitably advertises and foretells all that is good about Columbo, and, conversely, the problems associated with such ingenuity, i.e maintaining the high standards and particularly, creating a credible and suitably intelligent ending.

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